The Bullshit Option

Are you ever presented with a choice of offers and wonder, “who would ever select Option C”? If so, you have been part of the “bullshit option”.

Dan Ariely talked about the Economist offering 3 subscription options:

  1. Online subscription for $59
  2. Print edition for $125
  3. Both for $125

Well who wouldn’t want both for $125? It’s like you’re getting online for free! Of course the middle option is bullshit and was used to pull you up to the $125 tier.

Example: Digital Marketing Agency

Let’s say your a digital marketing agency who is looking to grow your web management and analytics lines of business. Between the two, you want to charge clients $600 per month. You may try something like:

  • Website management $500 per month
  • Analytics reporting $250 per month
  • Both for $600 per month

Why wouldn’t a client spend an extra $100 for an adding in analytics? That $600 suddenly doesn’t look so bad but it may if it lived in a silo. Now if anyone chooses analytics only, you are making a really good return on it, but in most cases, clients will choose both because their mental accounting will see it as saving $150 per month. We’re really bad at know what things should cost so we need frames to help us decide and the bullshit option is used to get people comfortable with the higher number.

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